Bitcoin True Mass Adoption Will Take Time Says Coinbase CEO

News and Analysis

Even though usage of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is steadily increasing each year, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, believes that it will take some time before they will reach true mass adoption for payments, at least in the United States.

“I think it will be quite some time before you cross the street to Starbucks in the U.S. and pay with crypto,” Brian Armstrong said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Starbucks recently denied rumors that it will allow its customers to pay with Bitcoin at its outlets, even though the Seattle-based company recently joined forces with Microsoft and New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange on a new digital platform.

“Customers will not be able to pay for Frappuccinos with Bitcoin,” a Starbucks spokesperson told Motherboard earlier this month, refuting a story published by CNBC.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Players Technology Summit, Armstrong said that today only about 10 percent of cryptocurrencies are used in real life. Still, he sees positive signs for the future.

“People’s expectations are all over the map, but real-world adoption has been going up each year,” he said. “I’m bullish on countries that are going through economic crisis, over the next three to five years, where everyone has the internet and a smartphone, you could see people adopting Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as an alternative.”

Armstrong also said that this technology “is going through a series of bubbles and corrections”, and each time reaches a new level.

“We’ve been through four or five of them now where Bitcoin made this big run-up in price and there was irrational exuberance, and then it corrected back 60 or 70 percent… It has kind of matched the growth of our company. If you go back to 2012/2013 when we started, we had 500 people a day signing up. After the next bubble and correction, we had 5,000 people a day sign up. And now it’s more like 50,000 a day signing up.”

However, Armstrong warns that there will be barriers in certain countries where governments want to discourage the use of Bitcoin.

“Most places in the free world are adopting this technology. They rightly want to protect consumers though,” he said. “There are going to be some countries in the world, just like the internet, where Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are restricted.”

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